Modern treaties are agreements that describe aspects of the relationship between Canada and Indigenous signatories. They describe Indigenous rights to land ownership, land use, land governance, self governance, and measures such as monetary compensation in exchange for sharing Indigenous lands with settler Canadians.
Policies on which modern Treaty negotiations are based are biased against Indigenous peoples. Until very recently, Indigenous signatories were forced to “cede, release, and surrender” and “extinguish” their rights to traditional territories. This goes against the way Indigenous peoples see themselves and function culturally as being part of their lands. It also goes against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Modern Treaties are difficult to negotiate, and have proven difficult to implement. The impacts of these problems are significant and wide-ranging for Indigenous governments and Indigenous communities.
Since 2014, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition (LCAC) Research Group has worked to determine an approach to gathering evidence that will assist policy makers in improving Modern Treaty implementation. During a conference in Ottawa in 2015, representatives of LCAC members; federal, territorial and provincial governments; and academics gathered to identify needs for implementation research. Five theme areas were identified: financing, law, intergovernmental relations, lands, and wellbeing.
This national, five-year, $2.5M project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, will fund high-quality scholarly research examining how Treaties are implemented in Canada. The project is guided by academics and Indigenous governments, who share co-leadership of research themes.
This Partnership, between LCAC, its members, and Canadian academics, will generate evaluative and practical research by assessing and rethinking approaches to treaty implementation. With direction by and in close collaboration with our Indigenous partners, we developed our partnership’s goal – to produce diverse and nuanced understandings of modern treaty implementation to inform academic thought, while also acting as a powerful and transformative basis for critiquing and innovating treaty implementation approaches.
The objectives of the partnership are:
- Form long-term research partnerships between LCAC members and academics
- Establish the partnership as a forum for sharing existing information
- Develop respectful and productive research methods
- Produce research results to inform recommendations for effective treaty implementation